One of the more interesting additions to the free agency market in 2016 is Bruce Irvin, who might end up going back to the Seattle Seahawks, but is already picking up interest from the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlanta Falcons.
Irvin didn’t get his option picked up last year by the Seahawks for a fifth season, but it has been sounding like both sides want to stay together. Irvin has mentioned that he’s willing to take a home discount to stick around with the team that drafted him in 2012 (15h overall out of West Virginia), and both Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have spoken about wanting to sign up Irvin in Seattle for a long time.
However, words outside the negotiations don’t mean much. Michael Bennett is one of those vocal Seahawks players that hasn’t been hiding his frustration with what he feels is being underpaid, while others on the Seahawks, like Kam Chancellor, haven’t been happy despite signing recent extensions, even resulting in holdouts. Golden Tate said he was going to give the Seahawks a discount but ended up signing with the Lions. Players talk about feeling respected and appreciated, but that is just another name for getting paid the most possible, which is completely fine, considering the way an NFL contract is structured and the risk they’re taking by playing in this sport.
Right now the Falcons, who were the worst pass rushing team in the NFL last season, and the Jaguars, are the most interested open market options for Irvin, but a lot of it depends on how much he’s going to be asking for. The highest paid 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL is Lavonte David, making $10 million a season. K.J. Wright of the Seahawks makes $6.75 million, but Irvin is probably going to be aiming for a pass-rusher expert money, despite having 5.5 sacks last season and 22 in his four years. In short, anything below $10 million a season for the next five years is going to be surprising.
If Irvin does surprise everyone and asks for around $8 million or so per season, probably half the league if not more is going to be chasing him, with the Seahawks more than eager to bring him back at that price. But it’s rare to see a 28-year old player who is playing very good football and has no injury problems asking to lose money just to stay with the team he has been with, meaning it’s going to be a while before Irvin is signed somewhere, and it isn’t going to be cheap for anyone.